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First Hispanic Bishop In San Diego Diocese Dies At 66 After Battle With Cancer

The head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego has died.

The diocese said Bishop Cirilo Flores, who became San Diego’s first Hispanic bishop nearly a year ago, died Saturday in Mission Valley after a battle of cancer. He was 66.

U-T San Diego reported that Flores had been ailing since April 17, when he suffered a stroke. While under treatment, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

According to the news agency, the cancer moved aggressively, eventually attacking Flores’ bones and leaving him too weak for chemotherapy.

Much like Pope Francis, Flores was the first Hispanic bishop in charge of the Diocese of San Diego.

The son of a Mexican immigrant, he began his administration by reaching out to homeless migrant workers. He was seen as open and accessible, rejecting pomp and ecclesiastical formalities.

“It’s a great loss to all of us, and to everyone in the diocese,” Rodrigo Valdivia, diocese chancellor, told U-T San Diego.

Sister RayMonda DuVall, executive director of Catholic Charities, called Flores a “man who had a lot of joy.”

“You always felt he was happy to see you, to be with you and to be among people,” she said. “He had this joy of service.”

A native of Corona, Flores received a bachelor's degree from Loyola Marymount University and a law degree from Stanford University.

He practiced law for a decade before being ordained in 1991 as a priest in the Diocese of Orange.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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